Viernes, 3 de diciembre de 2010

For the past year, I’ve been working on a study on distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks against independent media and human rights sites with colleagues at the Berkman Centre. The resulting report will be out shortly, but one of the main conclusions is that independent media sites are not capable of independently defending themselves of large, network based DDOS attacks.

There are many things an independent site can do to protect itself against smaller DDOS attacks that target specific application vulnerabilities (including simply serving static content), but the problem with a large, network-based attack is that it will flood the link between the targeted site and the rest of the internet, usually causing the hosting ISP to take the targeted site down entirely to protect the rest of its network.…  Seguir leyendo »

Vain, macho, obsessed with the cult of personality, autocratic, with a soft spot for the ladies and an undisputed mastery of disinformation, he controls vast chunks of the economy of his country, where the boundaries between the running of the state and mafia-style organised crime and corruption seem, at times, dangerously confused.

Who is this: Vladamir Putin or Silvio Berlusconi? In the eyes of their critics, the match between the two men appeared to be made in heaven, or rather hell, from day one.

Watching the pair holidaying together in Berlusconi’s Sardinia villas, or in Putin’s dacha, most informed Italians have instinctively felt that such an intimate alliance could only be the cause of concern.…  Seguir leyendo »

The fall of the Berlin Wall freed Europe, but its broader impact only became clear in the first decade of the 21st century. We didn’t see, in our giddiness, the other walls crumbling: say between Turkey, a NATO member, and Syria, then a Soviet ally, where at least 60,000 land mines once sealed the 540-mile border. Some $2 billion in trade now flows annually across a visa-free frontier. Satellites or former republics of the Soviet Union, like Bulgaria and Georgia, similarly discovered the Turkey next door. No longer the edge of the West, Turkey quietly turned itself into the hub of Eurasia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Reading the memoirs of Sari Nusseibeh (Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life) and Amos Oz (A Tale of Love and Darkness), it is sometimes hard to keep in mind that they are writing about the very same land, that they live less than 25 miles apart.

Sari Nusseibeh is a Palestinian politician and academic, and the life he describes is one of struggle for a land in which his illustrious family has played a central role since the 7th century. Amos Oz is an Israeli writer, and his story is set against the miraculous return of the Jews — including his East European Zionist parents — to their ancient homeland after centuries in Diaspora.…  Seguir leyendo »

Recently I was strolling along Amsterdam’s canals with a pair of Pakistani immigrant friends. They were worried. The leader of the third biggest party in the Dutch Parliament had called for a ban on the Koran. Attitudes toward Muslims were becoming toxic. A strange thought hung over me as we wandered by marijuana-selling coffee shops and display windows for legal prostitutes: the thought that Anne Frank, as a permanent reminder of intolerance gone mad, could be a guardian angel for Muslims in Amsterdam. How sad that in this city, with its history, a religious minority could once again feel the need for such a guardian.…  Seguir leyendo »

The best idea of 2010 came from the Himalayan mountain kingdom of Bhutan. Standing before world leaders in the United Nations General Assembly in September, Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley asked the decisive economic question of our time: “As all our people rise above the threats of basic survival, what will our collective endeavor be as a progressive society?”

He proposed an answer. Let us, he said, make “the conscious pursuit of happiness” a new pillar of global cooperation, the “ninth Millennium Development Goal.” Watching from the side of the hall, I was delighted as spontaneous cheers and applause rippled across the assembly for the first time in a long day of speeches.…  Seguir leyendo »

The big ecological disasters of 2010 fit into the ancient cosmological model, in which the universe is made up of four basic elements: AIR, volcanic ash clouds from Iceland immobilizing airline traffic over Europe; EARTH, mudslides and earthquakes in China; FIRE, rendering Moscow almost unlivable; WATER, the tsunami in Indonesia, floods displacing millions in Pakistan.

Such recourse to traditional wisdom offers no true insight into the mysteries of our wild Mother Nature’s whims, however. It’s a consolation device, really, allowing us to avoid the question we all want to ask: Will more events of such magnitude turn up on nature’s agenda for 2011?…  Seguir leyendo »

Según el Tratado del Atlántico Norte, aprobado en 1949, la OTAN es una alianza militar de carácter defensivo. Las únicas acciones militares previstas se basan en el derecho de legítima defensa, que se ejercerá si uno de los Estados miembros sufre un ataque armado en el territorio de Europa y América del Norte. Para disuadir a posibles enemigos, los miembros de la OTAN se comprometen a incrementar sus capacidades militares para resistir un ataque armado. También se establece que los Estados miembros se consultarán en caso de que se encuentren amenazadas su integridad territorial, su independencia política o su seguridad.

Sin embargo, el nuevo concepto estratégico que se acaba de aprobar en la Cumbre de Lisboa va más allá del tenor literal del Tratado, partiendo ahora de una concepción amplia de la defensa, que no se limita a la protección del territorio frente a posibles ataques armados sino que también incluye la respuesta a amenazas como la proliferación de armas nucleares, el terrorismo, los ciberataques, y la protección de las principales rutas comerciales y de aprovisionamiento de fuentes de energía.…  Seguir leyendo »

La revelación por Wikileaks de miles de correos, mensajes y cambios de impresiones que deberían haber permanecido secretos hasta la apertura de los archivos por los historiadores plantea, una vez más, el problema de la transparencia.

Desde que internet se ha apropiado de la facultad de divulgarlo todo sin que importe el qué, piratas superdotados se permiten dárselas de nuevos Robin de los Bosques de una globalización alternativa que, como mínimo, resulta sospechosa, consistente en hacer creer a los internautas que todos los Estados del mundo han organizado una enorme conspiración con la intención de esclavizar a los pobres ciudadanos. Estos se convertirían así en las víctimas inconscientes de unos poderes oscuros y antidemocráticos fundados sobre el imperio del crimen y de la corrupción.…  Seguir leyendo »

One of the earlier and most remarkable memories of my youth is a conversation with my grandmother. I had many conversations with her, or rather monologues, but this particular one stands out as she imparted the most important insights of her teachings. It was the moment when I understood how much I was worth. My value was approximately the same as a piece of sheep fat in the sun.

We were on our front yard of white sand. It was a hot day, like almost all days in Mogadishu. There was nothing unusual about the flies that irritated us or the ants that I avoided for fear of their sharp, agonizing bites.…  Seguir leyendo »

Back in October, when headlines in Britain were all gloom and doom about the pending cuts to public spending, a prominent New York art dealer manning a booth at London’s Frieze fair was grumbling about business. It seemed odd considering that before him stretched a sea of bodies: roaming mobs of 20-something hipsters and middle-aged flâneurs (not a few of them trying to look like 20-something hipsters). Dealers schmoozed with art consultants who were collecting info and photographs to send home to clients who might (possibly, perhaps, we’ll get back to you, love your stuff, ciao!) be interested in buying something.…  Seguir leyendo »

The year of belated global oil awareness, 2010, reminded me that I have been in the oil business for quite a while. It all began in the years before Nigerian independence, when I happened on a small news item revealing that oil had been found in some hitherto obscure village with the appropriate name of Oloibiri.

I was a student in Britain — that is, living in a country that was exploring the natural resources of other places, especially its former colonies. This did not mean I had the slightest inkling of the search for energy resources by rich industrialized nations.…  Seguir leyendo »

For four hundred years, no art form has been more closely identified with Western culture than opera. At the heart of every great European city stands an opera house. Over the centuries, it became the center of intellectual and social life: the place where the aristocracy gambled and partied, the rising bourgeoisie conversed, the artistic avant-garde sought inspiration. From Baroque to post-modern, opera librettos mirror the modern history of the West.

Yet opera is dying — in the West. The most popular romantic operas — works like “Aïda,” “Turandot,” and “Tristan und Isolde” — can no longer be cast with singers of the high quality lovingly remembered and immortalized in recordings from only a few decades ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

What were the events demarcating the spirit of the 21st century from that of the 20th? From a global perspective, they were, first of all, the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent rapid end of the Cold War order, and second, the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings on Sept. 11, 2001. The first act of destruction was one filled with bright hopes, while the one that followed it was an overwhelming tragedy. The widespread conviction in the first case that “the world will be better than ever” was totally shattered by the disaster of 9/11.

These two acts of destruction, which played out on either side of the millennial turning point with such vastly different momentum in each case, appear to have combined into a single pair that greatly transformed our mentality.…  Seguir leyendo »

While it is too soon to offer any meaningful perspective about the impact of the WikiLeaks disclosures on American foreign policy, it is not too early to reflect on what the leaked diplomatic cables say about the public’s understanding of how diplomacy works.

WikiLeaks’s justification for releasing confidential State Department materials is that the more the public knows about how our government conducts its foreign relations, the better the outcome will be. This is an old idea: Woodrow Wilson advocated “open covenants of peace, openly arrived at.” But history also shows that open diplomacy is often fatally flawed.

Secrecy is an essential part of any negotiation: no corporate merger, complicated legal settlement, amicable divorce or serious political compromise could ever be reached without a reliable level of confidentiality.…  Seguir leyendo »

A British ambassador to Venice in the 17th century observed that “a diplomat is an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country.” But for centuries, diplomats did more than lie. They bribed, they stole, they intercepted dispatches. Perhaps this will come as some consolation to the many American diplomats whose faces have been reddened by the trove of diplomatic cables released this week by WikiLeaks: whatever they’ve done cannot compare in underhandedness with what ambassadors did in the past.

In 16th-century London, for instance, a French ambassador paid another diplomat’s secretary 60 crowns a month to read the dispatches to which the secretary had access.…  Seguir leyendo »

En los últimos días, las tensiones en Corea se han acrecentado, sumando ya medio centenar de muertos, y pueden desembocar en una guerra con graves repercusiones debido a la existencia de arsenal atómico. Adicionalmente, estos problemas están avivando las diferencias entre Estados Unidos y China, al tiempo que ponen de manifiesto la incapacidad de reacción de Rusia o la paralización de Japón. Es decir, Corea es una pieza esencial donde se dirime el ajuste de fuerzas políticas internacionales con pretensiones de largo alcance, en una de las zonas de mayor dinámica económica mundial. Entender el enigma coreano y sus expectativas requiere tener presente la formación histórica y el desarrollo de las relaciones entre los dos países que la constituyen.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los historiadores necesitamos años, décadas, para averiguar los hechos más relevantes del pasado, reconstruir el curso de los acontecimientos, sacar a la luz las intenciones de sus protagonistas. Una mirada rigurosa a la historia exige para nosotros, necesariamente, la aplicación de métodos críticos para evaluar las fuentes, la adopción de técnicas reconocidas para presentar y editar el material y un notable ingenio para detectar los errores en la transmisión de la información y determinar la fiabilidad de los testimonios individuales.

Y, de repente, en apenas unos días, la filtración de una masa ingente de material diplomático, obtenida por Wikileaks y divulgada por algunos de los más prestigiosos medios de comunicación internacionales, proporciona una minuciosa crónica de la relación de Estados Unidos de América, el país más poderoso de la Tierra, con el resto del planeta.…  Seguir leyendo »

La histórica derrota del PSC en las elecciones del pasado 28-N obliga a los socialistas catalanes a abrir un debate interno para trazar un nuevo rumbo político. Y muy probablemente, en ese debate, las cuestiones identitarias cobrarán un especial protagonismo. El PSC deberá decidir si reforzar o no su perfil «catalanista», lo que es sin duda un verdadero hándicap para el partido. En efecto, se trata de un tema especialmente complicado para el PSC, pues en él conviven dos electorados claramente diferenciados en su nivel de nacionalismo. Por un lado, el sector «españolista» (mayoritariamente castellanohablante y de origen no catalán) se caracteriza por unas actitudes hostiles hacia las políticas nacionalistas y, en especial, hacia algunos elementos de la política lingüística catalana.…  Seguir leyendo »

The recent release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, after deeply flawed elections that allowed the military in Myanmar, also known as Burma, to tighten its half-century-long grip on the country, raises numerous political questions: What comes next for her? Will the ruling junta engage her newly reconstituted National Democracy Party? Will other political prisoners be freed?

While political headlines are filled with uncertainty, recent business headlines are not. It was reported last month that Chinese companies had invested $10 billion in Myanmar’s economy from January through May. A Thai-Italian partnership signed a $10 billion contract Nov. 2 to build a massive industrial zone on Myanmar’s coast – a project that Myanmar’s dictator, Senior Gen.…  Seguir leyendo »